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Handbrake-js is Handbrake (v0.10.5) for node.js, funnily enough. It aspires to provide a lean and stable foundation for building video transcoding software in node.js.

HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs. It can process most common multimedia files and any DVD or BluRay sources that do not contain any copy protection.


  • File Containers: .MP4(.M4V) and .MKV
  • Video Encoders: H.264(x264), H.265(x265) MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 (libav), VP8 (libvpx) and Theora(libtheora)
  • Audio Encoders: AAC, CoreAudio AAC/HE-AAC (OS X Only), MP3, Flac, AC3, or Vorbis
  • Audio Pass-thru: AC-3, DTS, DTS-HD, AAC and MP3 tracks

Read more about the features.

Compatible Platforms

Tested on Mac OSX, Ubuntu 14, Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Ubuntu 14.04 notice: Transcoding to MP4 fails on Ubuntu since 14.04 for this reason.


System Requirements

Just node.js. On Mac and Windows, every else is installed automatically. However on Linux, you must install HandbrakeCLI manually with these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository --yes ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
sudo apt-get update -qq
sudo apt-get install -qq handbrake-cli

As a library

Move into your project directory then run:

$ npm install handbrake-js --save

Mac / Linux users may need to run with sudo.

Now you can begin encoding from your app.

var hbjs = require('handbrake-js');
hbjs.spawn({ input: 'something.avi', output: 'something.m4v' })
  .on('error', function(err){
    // invalid user input, no video found etc 
  .on('progress', function(progress){
      'Percent complete: %s, ETA: %s',

As a command-line app

From any directory run the following:

$ npm install -g handbrake-js

Mac / Linux users may need to run with sudo.

Now, you can call handbrake as you would HandbrakeCLI, using all the usual options. By default, just statistics are output, passing --verbose prints the raw HandbrakeCLI output. This command will transcode an AVI to the more universal H.264 (mp4):

$ handbrake --input 'some episode.avi' --output 'some episode.mp4' --preset Normal
Task      % done     FPS       Avg FPS   ETA
Encoding  1.07       131.76    158.12    00h21m11s

API Reference

Handbrake for node.js.


var hbjs = require('handbrake-js')

hbjs.spawn([options]) ⇒ Handbrake

Spawns a HandbrakeCLI process with the supplied options, returning an instance of Handbrake on which you can listen for events.

Kind: static method of handbrake-js

Param Type Description
[options] object Options to pass directly to HandbrakeCLI


var hbjs = require('handbrake-js')
var options = {
  input: 'something.avi',
  output: 'something.mp4',
  preset: 'Normal',
  rotate: 1
  .on('error', console.error)
  .on('output', console.log)

hbjs.exec(options, [onComplete])

Runs HandbrakeCLI with the supplied options calling the supplied callback on completion. The exec method is best suited for short duration tasks where you can wait until completion for the output.

Kind: static method of handbrake-js

Param Type Description
options Object Options to pass directly to HandbrakeCLI
[onComplete] function If passed, onComplete(err, stdout, stderr) will be called on completion, stdout and stderr being strings containing the HandbrakeCLI output.


var hbjs = require('handbrake-js')
hbjs.exec({ preset-list: true }, function(err, stdout, stderr){
  if (err) throw err

handbrake-js~Handbrake ⇐ EventEmitter

A handle on the HandbrakeCLI process. Emits events you can monitor to track progress. An instance of this class is returned by spawn.

Kind: inner class of handbrake-js
Extends: EventEmitter
Emits: start, begin, progress, output, error, end, complete, cancelled

handbrake.output : string

A string containing all handbrakeCLI output

Kind: instance property of Handbrake

handbrake.options : object

a copy of the options passed to spawn

Kind: instance property of Handbrake


All operational errors are emitted via the error event.

Kind: instance enum of Handbrake

Name Default Description
VALIDATION ValidationError Thrown if you accidentally set identical input and output paths (which would clobber the input file), forget to specifiy an output path and other validation errors
INVALID_INPUT InvalidInput Thrown when the input file specified does not appear to be a video file
OTHER Other Thrown if Handbrake crashes
NOT_FOUND HandbrakeCLINotFound Thrown if the installed HandbrakeCLI binary has gone missing..


Cancel the encode, kill the underlying HandbrakeCLI process then emit a cancelled event.

Kind: instance method of Handbrake


Fired as HandbrakeCLI is launched. Nothing has happened yet.

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake


Fired when encoding begins. If you're expecting an encode and this never fired, something went wrong.

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake

"progress" (progress)

Fired at regular intervals passing a progress object.

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake

Param Type Description
progress object details of encode progress
progress.taskNumber number current task index
progress.taskCount number total tasks in the queue
progress.percentComplete number percent complete
progress.fps number Frames per second
progress.avgFps number Average frames per second
progress.eta string Estimated time until completion
progress.task string Task description, either "Encoding" or "Muxing"

"output" (output)

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake

Param Type Description
output string An aggregate of stdout and stderr output from the underlying HandbrakeCLI process.

"error" (error)

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake

Param Type Description
error Error All operational exceptions are delivered via this event. eError The unique error identifier
error.message string Error description
error.errno string The HandbrakeCLI return code


Fired on successful completion of an encoding task. Always follows a begin event, with some progress in between.

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake


Fired when HandbrakeCLI exited cleanly. This does not necessarily mean your encode completed as planned..

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake


If .cancel() was called, this event is emitted once the underlying HandbrakeCLI process has closed.

Kind: event emitted by Handbrake

© 2013-17 Lloyd Brookes <>. Documented by jsdoc-to-markdown.